Published December 13, 2019
Terri Nicholson is the newest chemistry and physical science instructor at Dodge City Community College.
Born and raised in Salina, Kan., Nicholson completed her undergrad at Marymount College in Salina, where she earned a bachelor’s in biology with a minor in chemistry and a minor in mathematics. She earned her master’s in physical science, with an emphasis in chemistry, from Emporia State University in 2013.
Nicholson has more than 31 years of experience teaching junior and senior high school and adjunct classes at various community colleges, often teaching concurrent enrollment courses.
She has worked at Cloud County Community College, Colby Community College, and Newman University. And she also has worked for DC3 before, while she was teaching concurrent anatomy and physiology and biology courses at Ingalls for two years.
She said her goal in getting her master’s was to be able to teach at the community college level full-time.
“It’s taken me a while, but I’m glad to be here,” she said. “I’m where want to be and teaching what I want to teach.”
Away from campus, Nicholson said she is passionate about gardening.
During the week, she stays at her apartment in Dodge City, while her boyfriend is at their home in Smith Center, Kan.—where they tend five large flowerbeds and a huge garden with more than 200 varieties of pepper plants. One of the special pepper varieties they grow is called Dragon’s Inferno.
“It’s so hot, it’s unreal,” she said.
In addition to growing their own peppers, they also make their own tabasco sauce with five varieties of tabasco peppers, as well as their own jalapeño shaker salt. They also grow tomatoes, zucchini, yellow squash, butternut squash, cucumbers, raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries.
Although they both do the gardening, Nicholson said she does most of the processing. They make their own jellies and can or freeze all of their produce, giving away what they can’t consume themselves.
“What we can’t eat, we just share. We believe that if God gives us a blessing we should share it,” Nicholson said.
She regularly brings large boxes of produce to the campus for her coworkers. And although she doesn’t have any chickens or small livestock on her Smith Center farm, her neighbors share eggs, cheese or other products in exchange for her produce and jellies.
Another one of Nicholson’s hobbies is to go on used book tours with an old friend.
“She and I just set a destination. And if something catches our eye, then that’s where we stop,” she said. “We just have a blast hitting used bookstores. We stop and eat when we’re hungry, and when we’re tired, we find a place to stop for the night.”
Her daughter Ashlea lives in Haysville, Kan., and works at a private inpatient hospital. Her other daughter, Bethany, is in Mobile, Ala., finishing a performing arts degree with plans to be a dance instructor.
She has four grandchildren, one 11-year-old and three eight-year-olds—Bethany’s husband has twin girls who are just a few months older than her son.
“So they basically have triplets,” she laughed. “I told them I’m glad it’s not me, and good luck when they’re teenagers.”